Approximately two million workplace injuries are documented each year. Usually, we think of a hand caught in a piece of machinery or a flying projectile when we consider work-related injuries.
But there is a far more insidious on-the-job injury that is even more common and often unnoticed. Over several years, it will sneak up slowly on people. The injury goes unnoticed until the symptoms become impossible to ignore. Excuses are a normal reaction. “It’s just part of growing older” or “It’s a short-term problem”. This response is common.
And it’s unusual for people to even acknowledge that their workplace is the cause of this injury.
Damaged hearing is this insidious injury. There are some essential steps you should take if you recognize any of the numerous warning signs.
How Loud is Too Loud?
Regular exposure to sounds louder than 85 decibels (dB) can result in long-term damage to your hearing. Seventy-five dB, for example, is the average volume of a vacuum cleaner. Eighty-five dB for a lawnmower. If you’re exposed to a leaf blower or a chainsaw you’re dealing with 100 dB. A gunshot is about 140 dB.
How loud is your workplace? Is the most common workplace injury an issue for you? If you’re regularly exposed to noise as loud as a lawnmower, even if it’s not continuous, your hearing can become damaged over time.
Hearing Injury Signs
You’re definitely damaging your hearing if you work in a loud environment without hearing protection.
The following is are early warning signs that you’re experiencing hearing loss:
- You feel pain when you hear loud noises.
- You can’t understand the person speaking if there’s background sound.
- You confuse consonants – “Todd” sounds like “Dodd,” for instance.
- When people speak, you tend withdraw.
- Conversations sound muffled.
- You regularly ask people to repeat themselves when they speak.
- People are always complaining about the high volume of your media devices.
- When you talk with people you constantly believe they are mumbling
- You hear ringing, hissing, or whistling even when it’s quiet.
What Are Employers Doing to Decrease Hearing Damage?
In settings that are very loud, technology is being put to use by organizations and businesses, to reduce workplace noise. Workplace noise will be lessened as new recommendations are being put in place by governments to safeguard workers.
Employees are speaking out as they become aware of the chronic damage that workplace noise is causing. Further change will come as their voices are heard.
Preventing Additional Damage
If you work in a noisy setting, the smartest thing you can do is safeguard your ears before any damage takes place. Wearing protective headphones or earplugs on the job will help reduce potential damage.
If you believe your hearing has been injured by a noisy workplace, make an appointment for a hearing exam as soon as possible. When you ascertain the level of your hearing loss, you will find out how to counter further damage going forward. We can help you develop strategies to protect against additional hearing loss and deal with the damage you’ve already experienced.